Gov. Chris Christie unveiled legislation this morning that would allow private companies to run five chronically failing New Jersey schools through a public-private partnership pilot program.
Only districts with low-performing schools will qualify to participate in the program, and participation will require support from local boards of education. The legislation will allow for-profit companies to manage the schools.
Christie made the announcement at Camden’s Lanning Square Elementary School alongside Mayor Dana Redd, a Democrat who has worked with the Republican governor on education issues.
"This pilot program will provide an innovative alternative for those children who need it most, bolstering our efforts to ensure opportunity for every child in our state," Christie said. "This program will begin to restore hope in communities where failing schools deny children hope and opportunity."
Christie’s acting education commissioner, Christopher Cerf, has experience in public-private school partnerships. He previously led Edison Schools, a for-profit company that became the largest private-sector manager of public schools. Cerf left the company, now called EdisonLearning, in 2005.
Christie is also connected to for-profit education companies, including Cerf’s.
From 1999 to 2001, Christie was a registered lobbyist at a law firm that lobbied New Jersey government on behalf of Edison Schools, according to filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. While the firm was representing the multinational education company, Chris Cerf was its general counsel.
The firm, Dughi, Hewit and Palatucci, also represented Mosaica Education, a for-profit charter school operator, and the University of Phoenix, a for-profit online university. At the time, the firm listed two lobbyists, Christie and William Palatucci, a longtime political ally of the governor who is a named partner in the firm.
Christie paying back his natural constituency - for profit school operators.
Ultimately, they'll want to turn all urban school systems over to private operators.
He may get away with it.
After all, we have a president and a secretary of education who promote the same policies.